On Thursday, December 6, the MotorCities National Heritage Area Partnership honored two individuals and eight finalists who have distinguished themselves in the areas of auto and labor heritage with its 5th annual Awards of Excellence. The winners in each of the three categories — preservation, education and interpretation, and tourism, were announced during Michigan Auto Heritage Day, an invitation-only event for state lawmakers in the Capitol Building in Lansing.
Sandra Clark, director of the Michigan History Center, received a MotorCities Champion Award. When MotorCities was being created, there was a lot of talk about Detroit as the “Motor City,” however, it was Clark who said that the story is so much bigger. In her role at the Michigan History Center, Clark added the true statewide perspective. Her leadership was critical in receiving the state’s endorsement in order to move up to consideration for the heritage area. Clark went on to serve as chair of the MotorCities Board of Directors and continues to advocate for the state’s auto history.
Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren) was also honored with MotorCities’ annual Milestone Award. He has served as both a Senator and Representative of his local district in the Michigan state legislature since 2002. He helped found and co-chairs the Michigan Legislative Auto Caucus, providing a forum for legislative discussion about all matters related to the auto industry in the state. It was in partnership with that caucus that MotorCities launched the Michigan Auto Heritage Day and Awards of Excellence in 2014.
Nominees for the award for Preservation included:
- The Cherry Hill Ford Factory Complex in Canton, which is working to restore an original Henry Ford Village Industry Factory and Dormitory in order to offer veterans programming – the same purpose it served when Ford opened the facility in the 1940s;
- “Carriages to Cars” led by Mike West on behalf of the Oakland County Pioneer Historical Society, which chronicles the evolution of vehicle manufacturing in Pontiac;
- and General Motors Durant-Dort Factory One in Flint, which was the factory operated by Billy Durant and J. Dallas Dort prior to Durant’s acquisition of Buick in 1904 and the formation of General Motors in 1908.
Nominees for the award for Interpretation and Education included:
- The Henry Ford Quiz Show presented by the Henry Ford Heritage Association based in Dearborn, which features an interactive quiz presented at major automotive events allowing visitors to test their knowledge of the automotive icon for a chance at prizes;
- The Model T Outreach Program operated by the Casual T’s and Piquette T’s, who provided a 45-minute presentation to third graders across the region, but also brought those students outside the classroom to interact with a Model T and driver;
- and, the Model T Experience supported by the Manufacturing Academy in Jackson, which uses a cutaway engine of the famed “Tin Lizzie” to demonstrate to students of all ages how the engineering, manufacturing and business acumen of Henry Ford helped shape the auto industry we know today.
Nominees for the award for Heritage Tourism are the following:
- Mary and Ted Stahl of the Stahls Automotive Foundation of Chesterfield Township, which stands to foster education and appreciation of vehicles of all makes and model at their museum through hands-on interaction;
- and the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum Calendar Project, which takes a Lansing institution beyond the limitations of its four walls and beautifully showcases how this museum, its vehicles and its stories truly belong to its home city of Lansing.
We are pleased to announce that Mary and Ted Stahl won the award! Dan Stahl, Erin Stahl, staff, and volunteers of the collection were on hand to accept the award. Thank you to Motorcities Heritage group for all you do to keep history alive!